An industry report is calling for up to 18 million new cylinders to be installed across England to ensure a smoother transition to lower carbon heating systems and more efficient homes
Authorities should support the installation of millions of new hot water cylinders in England to better support the decarbonisation of domestic heating, the Hot Water Association (HWA) argues.
The association’s ‘No Place Like Home’ report concludes that government initiatives to introduce low carbon heat systems in homes risks being undermined by an overall fall in the number of hot water cylinders in use.
As estimated 18 million cylinders could be required and should be backed by government subsidies, the HWA report has argued.
Less than 45 per cent of homes in England currently have a hot water cylinder. This figure is down from 77 per cent of homes in 2001, according to the association’s report. It concludes that the popularity of the combination boiler, which does not require a hot water store, has been a major driver in this change in housing stock heating.
However, it will be vital to ensure that there is support and incentives to introduce new water cylinder technologies that can help lower the overall cost of replacing these boilers with lower carbon heat over the next two decades, the HWA claimed.
Isaac Occhipinti, director of external affairs with the HWA, said the report called for more action to introduce efficient cylinders to homes to allow for a range of different heat systems to be more easily installed across the current housing stock.
He said, “The political focus of decarbonising heating has been solely on the heat source; such as boilers and heat pumps. There has been little to no focus on hot water cylinders, and recognition for the vital part they play in the efficient operation of low carbon heating. There is also, currently untapped potential for them to act as domestic batteries.”
“To decarbonise heating, all UK homes will need low to zero carbon heating. Most, currently available, low carbon heating solutions require a hot water cylinder.”
A specific concern of the report is that, not only is there a lack of effort to install efficient hot water cylinders in homes, but there is also limited awareness about the significance of these new systems can have to support renewable energy storage
Mr Occhipinti said, “The government must do more to educate homeowners, local authorities and social landlords on the need for hot water storage, and homeowners should be able to access incentives if they wish to replace their hot water cylinder with no stipulation on the type of system to be installed only that it is a suitable replacement. This will also mean that in the future the cost of moving to new heating systems will be reduced.”
“In addition, the energy storage potential associated with the UK’s current installed capacity of domestic hot water cylinders is comparable to our entire fleet of pumped-hydro-electric storage and with just a fraction of this resource; it would be possible to absorb the largest surpluses of renewable power that arise from offshore wind and solar PV.”
Mr Occhipinti added, “We also will not be able to take advantage of the current grid balancing potential of millions of hot water stores.”
A core proposal in the HWA’s report is the call for an incentive scheme to fully cover the cost of purchasing and installing high efficiency cylinders.
It stated that the typical cost would be around £900 for the cylinder system and another £500 for the installation.
However, the HWA said that these costs would below the average £5000 cap for works covered under the short-lived Green Homes Grant that was introduced by the UK government in 2020 to incentivise energy efficiency improvements and heat pumps installations.
The repot added that cylinders would ensure that the cost of effectively installing systems such as heat pumps would be reduced.
The findings stated, “This will remove a significant barrier to their installation.”